Forum Virium Helsinki is an innovation unit within the Helsinki City Group. It develops new digital services and urban innovations in cooperation with companies, the City of Helsinki, other public sector organizations, and Helsinki residents.

We are an innovation group for open digital services, based in Helsinki. We have a European-wide collaboration network. The digital solutions developed in our projects can be seen in Helsinki, Amsterdam and Barcelona alike. Cities around the world will benefit from services built together on shared platforms. We are an innovation unit developing digital city services, with our home base in Helsinki.

At Forum Virium Helsinki, we’ve experienced our greatest successes when building bridges between the public and the private sector. Our development projects are based on the same principle: we solve public sector problems, but the solutions are often developed by private companies and residents.

A good example is the award-winning Helsinki Region Infoshare. The service has driven the opening up of public sector data in the municipalities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area since 2011. Over 1000 data sets created with public funds have already been given free, open access. Today, dozens of mobile apps developed by starts-ups and enthusiastic citizens are making the most out of open data. At the start of 2014, the HRI service became part of municipalities’ regular operations.

Agile smart city development

The operating model of Forum Virium Helsinki is based on user-driven open innovation. Some talk about agile development, while others call it a culture of experimentation. This means a significant paradigm shift in public sector operations. The role of Forum Virium Helsinki is to drive development towards a seamless service experience for citizens, which in turn allows the city to benefit from offering digital services, too.

Text: Petja Partanen, Tarinatakomo